The NBA elected to continue its season after Thursday despite signals from journalists, politicians, and other public figures that the players’ two-day strike was a memorable movement in sports history.
Breaking: NBA players decided to resume the playoffs, a source told @wojespn.
Thursday’s games have been postponed, the source confirmed. pic.twitter.com/hhhaBaeJYT
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 27, 2020
The decision comes just one day after the Milwaukee Bucks failed to come onto the court to play game five of their playoff series and both the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers pledged to conclude their season early in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits “strikes, cessations or stoppages of work” by members of the Players Association. The contract also specifically expects the Players Association, which came out in support of the strike on Wednesday, to “prevent each player from refusing, or threatening to refuse, to participate in any scheduled Exhibition game, Regular Season game, All-Star Game, Rookie-Sophomore Game, All-Star Skills Competition or Playoff game.”
Although many players participated in strikes violating this agreement, journalists from MSNBC, Politico, and other national news corporations took to Twitter on Wednesday claiming the Bucks’ and others’ refusal to play was a significant moment in the history of sports. Some even likened the players’ protest to the quest by Muhammad Ali, a professional boxer, to refuse to fight in the Vietnam War.
Athletes in this era are upholding the finest traditions of heroes like Muhammad Ali. You can't have your entertainment if these players aren't even safe driving home for fear of a police stop. You want your "sport?" Peace and quiet and a relief from protests? Change policing. https://t.co/eiWD4r2a0u
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) August 26, 2020
The more I see how America generally responds to today's athletes exercising their rights to call for social and racial justice… the more I appreciate Muhammad Ali and what he had to give up and endure for his beliefs and similar calls decades ago.
— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) August 27, 2020
LeBron on Muhammad Ali in 2016.
Listen closely. https://t.co/BTDwyPd2Hz
— Thomas Duffy (@TJDhoops) August 27, 2020
If true — if LeBron, who's the de facto commissioner, uses his platform to cancel the NBA playoffs for the purpose of engaging in social activism ahead of the election — this is the biggest sports/culture story since Muhammad Ali refusing to fight in Vietnam. https://t.co/mtfF9h8LcA
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) August 27, 2020
— Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) August 27, 2020
The NBA, owners and front offices didn't see this wave of player boycotts coming today. Hours ago, they all expected to be playing these games tonight. This is a pivot point for the NBA and professional sports in North America.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 26, 2020
Other notable people such a former President Barack Obama also expressed their support of the movement, claiming it took “courage” to protest and calling the work stoppage “taking action” to “stand up for our values.”
I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values. pic.twitter.com/rUGETgAt7P
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 27, 2020
NBA players are courageously on strike (withholding labor), NOT boycotting (withholding their $ /purchase). The diff is important bc it shows their power as *workers.*
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 27, 2020
The courage and conviction that athletes of the NBA & WNBA have shown over the last 24 hours is America at its best.
They’ve seen something that's not right, not just, not fair, and they’re taking action to stop it. #goodtrouble
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 27, 2020
When the league decided to move forward with their schedule after Thursday, many of these same blue checkmarks were silent on the supposedly historical decision from Wednesday.